Several weeks ago I wrote: I believe we are called to live out the deepest meaning of faith, gratitude, and belonging: “And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
This past weekend we asked for your commitment. And not just to parish ministry, but “whatever you do.” And more than 300 of you responded, bringing forward your commitment and receiving a blessing that, with God’s grace, the commitment will come to fruition.
Now, one might inquire.: “What happens to those commitments?” I read them all, every one. It is a great opportunity for a pastor to gain some insight into the mind and thoughts about the folks in the parish – and it is an opportunity to be humbled by the great spirit of faith and hope that abounds in this parish.
As I read I took notes about the commitments people wanted to make so that I could share this great expression of faith with the whole parish. The messages ran from the touching: “I promise to help Mommy with the dishes,” to the ones that brought a quiet moment of prayer, “To support and be fully present to my spouse in these days of hospice care.” And, of course, everything in between.
It seems to me that people were focused on family, prayer, Christian living, community, and ministry in the parish. Many of the folks, already in ministry, renewed themselves to another year of ministry in serving you; others expressed a desire to “get up off the bench” and join a ministry. There were lots of commitments to family: being the best parent, being nice to my little brother or sister, helping renew the faith of a family member, praying together, and making more time for family apart from the busyness of modern life.
Christian living contained some wonderful goals: being a Christian friend instead of just a friend (I loved that one), working on humility and patience, to see in themselves what God sees in them, and to be more charitable in word and deed.
There were lots of commitments to prayer. People expressed a deep spiritual longing and the willingness to spend quiet time with the Lord, especially in the morning before the day got away from them. There were many families that committed to praying the rosary together. Several made commitments to make a retreat. One that I loved for its focus and intention – to make a prayer of mercy each day for a special intention. What a wonderful sentiment from Hosea 6:6 and Matthew 9:13 – to focus on mercy, a core gospel value.
There were lots of commitments to community service – and they reflected our parish as people committed to serve from Oldsmar to Apollo Beach, New Tampa to South Tampa. And the commitment to parish ministry was very strong. I don’t think there was a single ministry that was not mentioned.
What now? I would give you this advice: pick one person and make them your commitment partner. Tell them the commitment, ask for their prayers, and tell them to check in on your from time to time to see how you are doing on your promise.
Thanks for sharing with us and may God bless you and keep you in fulfilling the commitments you have made.